This is something a lot of you know about me already, but I have a lot of rejections. Need proof? Look down.
Yes, it looks like a ream of paper, but I swear to commas: those are my rejections. From agents.
It’s a lot. It looks overwhelming. It looks like I should have just quit.
But here’s the thing: I’m grateful for every one of these rejections, because they were right: I wasn’t ready. Not writing wise, and not emotionally.
I started querying too early, and the reality was that I needed time to develop my writing skills. While I’m proud of everything I’ve written, I wouldn’t be proud to have all of it published. Especially with those early manuscripts, I needed time to learn and grow. I needed to read more. I needed to be told to step back and keep working.
Emotionally, I was too young. In spite of what I believed, I had no idea how difficult it was to hear opinions — both positive and negative — from readers and reviewers. This pile of rejections helped prepare me for both, because while they were rejections, many were kind and encouraging. The agents I queried wanted me to succeed. Several saw me grow as a writer over the years, and some even sent congratulating emails when my first deal was announced.
For me, these rejections are a lesson in humility and patience. There’s always more for me to learn. I can always be a better writer. Having my books published with a big house was always my dream, and these rejections drove me to work for it.
I was forced to grow closer to the writer I want to be, rather than allowed to believe I was already there. But the truth is, to get to that place, I still have more work to do. I can never stop learning because I’ve reached one goal. Now I’m reaching for the next. There will be more rejections along the way.
When I started writing, I had no idea how many years it would take for me to get published, or how many manuscripts I’d have to write, or how many times I’d be rejected. I used to believe these rejections were shameful, that they meant I’d been eternally judged as not good enough. But what they really mean is I didn’t give up.
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).
*A Kippy is a cat.